If you haven’t heard of Dakota Johnson, you’ve at least heard of the hugely popular movie franchise “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Johnson stars as the leading lady, a shy college student named Anastasia Steele, who falls hard for a striking businessman with a dark side, Christian Grey. The steamy films garnered a lot of attention for Dakota Johnson after their major box office success.
While the book-to-movie trilogy certainly launched her career as a major film star, Johnson has become much more than the girl from Fifty Shades. Her thoughtful project choices have turned her into a respected actor. In the last few years, she has appeared in psychological thrillers, romantic comedies and emotional dramas with some star-studded casts.
After the final installment of Fifty Shades, 2018 saw Johnson choosing darker roles in a dramatic shift from the shy, sexually inexperienced Anastasia Steele. Her role as Susie in the horror/thriller “Suspiria” highlighted her range as a compatible force next to actors like Tilda Swinton. She went on to star alongside Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm and Chris Hemsworth in the crime drama “Bad Times at the El Royale,” which she described as a work of art: “it’s an intellectual and emotional and creative message.”
Another turn in her career led her towards emotional indie dramas telling important stories about loss, chosen family and human complexity. Johnson made films like “The Peanut Butter Falcon” and “Our Friend,” which showcased her aptitude for more serious roles. In the midst of her busy film schedule, she pivoted from actor to producer in 2019 when she partnered with Ro Donnelly to create TeaTime Pictures. Over half of TeaTime’s projects, all in various stages of production, are set to star Johnson as one of the lead roles.
Simultaneously acting and producing, Johnson has been turning out projects left and right. Most recently she starred in “The High Note” with Tracy Ellis Ross in 2020, “The Lost Daughter” alongside Olivia Coleman in 2021 and two of her own productions “Cha Cha Real Smooth” and “Am I OK?” which had successful debuts at Sundance Film Festival. Apple TV has already picked up “Cha Cha Real Smooth” and plans for its exclusive release on their platform on June 17th, 2022.
Given her overnight success from Fifty Shades, Dakota Johnson has propelled her career to the point of consistently working on titles she deems important and exciting. She even made time to support her rock star boyfriend, Chris Martin, by co-directing a Coldplay music video for the song “Cry Cry Cry.”
Dakota Johnson has proved that while connections and opportunity influence the success of an actress, making thoughtful career moves is what solidifies your legacy as a great one.